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"Quirky" California History: Close Reading Passages and Assessments

Grade Levels
Common Core Standards
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7 MB|20 pages
Product Description
California is the most populous and diverse state in the country. This unique set of four close reading texts was created to engage and educate middle-grade California students about some of the quirkier, lesser-known characters in this glorious state’s history. TPT sellers offer plenty of resources to teach about the California’s Missions, Earthquakes, or the California Gold Rush….this is not one of those. These printable/no prep resources can be used in either an English or Social Studies class and work best for Grade 5-8 students.

These passages and assessments are ideal as part of a close reading program in your classroom. This is not the typical “one reading I'm done” comprehension work given far too often to our students. To complete the assessment for the passage, students will need "to undertake the close, attentive reading and re-reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex and worthy works.”

So what is in this set? See below:

Snowshoe Thompson
An 800-word passage on the legendary Snowshoe Thompson, a Norwegian immigrant who introduced skis and skiing to California in the mid-1800s by delivering mail over the high Sierras in the dead of winter. There are 8 questions, mainly in short answer response format, written to align with Common Core Informational Text Standards RI.4.5, RI.4.7, RI.4.10, and RI.5.1. Flesch Kincaid Reading Level = 5.5

The Winchester Mystery House
An engaging informational text of 850+ words called “The Winchester Mystery House.” A tribute to eccentricity, guilt, and superstition, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California has attracted the attention of curious, and fascinated visitors for almost a century. This close reading passage tells the story of Sarah Winchester and the 158-room unfinished mansion she supervised and had under continuous construction for over 38 years. There are 26 questions, from simple to more challenging, written to align with these Common Core Informational Text Standards: RI.4.1, RI.4.3, RI.4.5, and RI.5.3. Flesch Kincaid Reading Level = 6.4

The Rainmaker: Charles Mallory Hatfield
An entertaining 900-word passage on Charles Mallory Hatfield, a rainmaker hired by the city of San Diego in 1916 to end a multi-year drought. Hatfield did his job too well, producing a deluge that broke dams, flooded large parts of the area, and led to over 50 deaths. There are 22 questions, written to align with these Common Core Informational Text Standards: RI.4.1, RI.6.5, and RI.6.7. Flesch Kincaid Reading Level = 6.1

Emperor Norton the First
An interesting 1000-word passage on the eccentric Emperor Norton the First, the self-proclaimed “emperor” of the United States. Norton “ruled” the country from 1859-1880, issuing proclamations that entertained San Franciscans and allowed him to walk the city collecting meals, lodging, and tributes from the citizenry for over 20 years. There are 22 questions, from simple to more challenging, written to align with these Common Core Informational Text Standards: RI.4.2, RI.5.3, RI.5.4, and RH.6-8.1. Flesch Kincaid Reading Level = 6.8

NOTE: The first two resources in this set, “Snowshoe Thompson” and “The Winchester Mystery House”, are individual passages that are included in larger close informational text sets offered in my store. These two sets are linked below:

Common Core Informational Text Assessments: Grades 4-5

Mysteries and Wonders Informational Passage and Assessment Collection

The third and fourth passages, “The Rainmaker: Charles Mallory Hatfield” and “Emperor Norton the First,” are found ONLY in this collection.

This item is a PAID digital download from my TPT store. As such, it is for use in one classroom only. This item is also bound by copyright laws and redistributing, editing, selling, or posting this item (or any part thereof) on the Internet are all strictly prohibited without first gaining permission from the author. Violations are subject to the penalties of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Any claims of correlation or alignment to the Common Core State Standards are solely those of Mark Aaron and have not been evaluated or endorsed by the NGA. Mark Aaron is the sole creator of this product and does not claim endorsement or association with the creators of the CCSS.

Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
4 days
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